Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Child and Family Studies


Jaipaul L. Roopnarine


children's behavior, depressive symptoms, economic hardship, father-child, intervention

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


This study examined the associations between economic hardship and paternal mental health and preschool-aged children’s behavioral difficulties, indirectly through paternal engagement across compliers, non-compliers and controls in the Building Strong Families Project. A confluence of propositions within paternal involvement frameworks, the bio-ecological systems model, the family stress model, and risk and resilience frameworks guided the framing of the questions and hypotheses. The sample consisted of 3,045 African American, European American and Hispanic American fathers and their young children. Families were randomly assigned to a treatment and a control group. Analyses employed Bayesian multi-group path analysis. Results indicate that economic hardship was positively associated with paternal depressive symptoms for fathers in the complier and control groups. Paternal depressive symptoms were negatively associated with paternal engagement in social and cognitive activities, caregiving activities, and physical play, and positively associated with children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors regardless of whether fathers received relationship skills education or not. For fathers in the complier and control groups, paternal depressive symptoms were positively associated with internalizing behavior indirectly through paternal engagement in caregiving activities. Data are discussed in terms of the possible influence of relationship skills education on the links between economic hardship, paternal depressive symptoms, paternal involvement, and children’s behavioral difficulties.


Open Access